Red Velvet Cheesecake

Red velvet anything is a favorite around these parts. I’ve been “meaning to” make this cake for almost over a year. First a birthday, then another birthday and now, “well….Valentine’s Day is coming up…”

Finally!

I recreated a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake as a cheesecake before. This recipe uses the same cheesecake method. Remember, your cheesecake needs to cool and set for at least 4 hours so plan ahead!

Because this cake is going to have a whole cheesecake in the center, I opted for a plain vanilla buttercream to coat. Some crumbled cake helps to keep decorating simple and error-proof.

Make this for your sweetie and report back!

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Ingredients:

Red Velvet Sponge

2 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2-3 tbsp cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs, room temperature

1 cup of buttermilk, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 tbsp red food coloring (more or less to suit your preference)

1 tsp white vinegar

Pro tip: Boost your cocoa flavor by adding ½ cup of very strong coffee or instant espresso!! Remember when I used this technique in brownies?

Cheesecake (make this beforehand and allow to cool!)

Vanilla Buttercream:

2 sticks softened butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Roughly 5 cups of powdered sugar

 

 

  1. Your cheesecake should have been made beforehand and should already be cooling in the fridge for at least four hours!!!!rv13rv14
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F
  3. In the bowl of your mixer, combine your dry ingredientsrv
  4. In a medium bowl, first combine your sugar and oil then add in the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and food coloring
  5. Add in your vinegarrv2rv3
  6. Add in your coffee or espresso if you’re going to use it
  7. With your mixer on low, slowly incorporate the wet into the dry bit by bit
    • Note: This is not a thick batterrv4
  8. Grease and flour two 9” cake pan and divide in 3-4 cupcake tins, plus two pans
    • This can also be used just for cupcakes, freeze any excess batter in a ziplock bag for next time!
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes in the center of the oven, start checking for doneness around 30 minutes
    • (your cupcakes will be done quicker, check for doneness around 16 minutes)
  10. When the cake passes the toothpick test remove from the oven and cool on a rack then cool upside down to help flatten out the topsrv5
  11. While cooling, whip up some buttercream

Vanilla Buttercream:

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium until the butter looks white and fluffy
  • Add vanilla
  • On low speed, slowly and carefully add the powdered sugar about a cup at a time
  • Slowly increase the speed and whip until well incorporated
  • Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all of your sugar is used
  • Leftover buttercream can be stored in the freezer in a ziplock bag.

 

  1. Once completely cooled stack sponge-cheesecake-sponge
  2. Spread your buttercream
  3. Crumble up your cupcakes and sprinkle on/around your cake!rv7rv6rv8rv9rv10

 

 

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

© 2018 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Mason’s Dragon Noodles

Tonight my kiddo said he wanted spicy, saucy noodles so Mason’s Dragon Noodles became a thing and I will absolutely be duplicating this in the future.

A super easy recipe. Bold flavors make it difficult to mess this up. It’s also easily adjustable to suit your tastes. My family likes food spicy (hello “dragon” noodles), so feel free to tinker with the spice level.

I was gifted a wok for Christmas. Mommy’s first wok. Seasoning it was an adventure but it was successful! So, this was my first time breaking it in.

If you don’t have a wok, use a cast iron skillet because they hold heat really well and they get super hot. If you don’t have either of those, use a pan large enough to hold what you’re working with. High heat is important, so be mindful of that.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large chicken breast, or a few boneless skinless chicken thighs, sliced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • ¼-1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2-3 scallions, whites and greens (reserve some greens)
  • Handful of chopped cilantro, (reserve some)
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • ½-1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 habanero pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb angel hair or spaghetti (you can use your preferred Asian noodles but we usually have these in the house and they work just fine)
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/3-1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 2 tbsp Huy Fong sriracha (the REAL kind with the green cap and rooster)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • ~1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1/3-1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce

 

  1. Boil and drain your noodles.
  2. Prep your vegdragon3
  3. In a bowl, mix up the garlic, ginger, habanero, sugar, and liquid ingredients and whisk together.dragon4
  4. With your wok or pan on high heat, add some oil and cook your chicken breast. Remove and set to the side.
  5. Working quickly, cook your veggies. You want them to keep some texture so don’t cook them to death. Remove and set to the side.dragon6
  6. Still on high heat, add the liquid to the pan. dragon5Bring to a boil and add your chicken and simmer for a bit then add your veggies. Shortly after, add your drained noodles.
  7. Using tongs, toss your noodles, cilantro and other ingredients. You want to incorporate them all together as well as you can. This can be annoying but toss in different directions to incorporate. Turn off your heat, your noodles will sop up any extra liquid.dragon7
  8. Top with reserved cilantro and scallion.

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This can be served hot, warm or cold.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

© 2018 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake

This is as sinful and indulgent as you think. Highly reminiscent of Good Humor’s classic treat. My first attempt was “liked” by Good Humor on Twitter (yes, that is a humble brag). This is my second attempt. I tinkered with my notes and I am quite pleased with how this turned out.

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JUST LOOK AT HER!

This recipe is not for the faint of heart. You need to allocate at least two days for this project. You can make the crumble way ahead of time and stick it in the freezer. You can also make the puree ahead of time. You need to make your cheesecake the day/night before you assemble and decorate.

 

If I haven’t scared you off yet check out the ingredients and steps after the jump!

 

Ingredients:

 

Crumb:

1 pack of Golden Oreos

1 pack of strawberry gelatin

1 pack of vanilla pudding

Half stick of softened butter

(Gloves, if you’re weird like me.)

 

Cheesecake:

2-8oz cream cheese, room temp

1 C sugar

3 tbsp sour cream, room temp

½ tbsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

½ tbsp. corn starch

 

Strawberry Cake:

2 ½ C flour

1 ½ C sugar

2 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1/2 c milk

1/2 c butter, room temperature

4 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾ C strawberry puree, reduced*

Optional: 1 tsp strawberry gelatin for a slightly pinker cake

 

Vanilla Buttercream:

2 sticks softened butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Roughly 5 cups of powdered sugar

 

Strawberry Puree:

As a rule, a pint of fresh strawberries generally yields roughly 1 ¼ cup of pureed strawberry

I used just over a half a pint of strawberries.

 

 

  1. ss19ss20Puree strawberries
  2. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer.
  3. Stirring occasionally, allow the puree to reduce (it will thicken and sometimes the color will darken)
  4. Allow the puree to cool completely
    1. This can be refrigerated in an air tight container until you’re ready to use it.

 

Crumble:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the cookies until they resemble sand
  2. Using your hand, “squish” the softened butter throughout the cookies, it will now be more like wet sand.
  3. Separate the crumbs into two bowls
  4. Sprinkle in strawberry gelatin ½ tbsp at a time until you get your desired color
  5. Add 1 tbsp of vanilla pudding to the other batch
  6. Combine the two batches
  7. This can be stored in a ziplock bag in the freezer

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Cheesecake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, whip the softened cream cheese.
  3. Add the sour cream
  4. Add the sugar and vanilla
  5. Add the corn starch
  6. Add the eggs one at a time
  7. Scrape down the sides, mix until combined
    1. You don’t want to see any large flecks of cream cheese, small specks are okay.
  8. Cut a circle large enough to fit into the bottom of a 9” cake pan
  9. Spray with cooking spray, place parchment
  10. Pour cheesecake mixture into the pan, gently tap the pan on your counter to release any bubbles
  11. Bake for roughly an hour
    1. The cheesecake will be slightly jiggly in the center, a tad firmer towards the edges
    2. This cheesecake is a filling so some browning and cracks are fine. No one is going to see this. This is basically sacrilegious for traditional cheesecake, I know, but trust me.
  12. Allow the cheesecake to cool
  13. Cover with plastic wrap and allow cheesecake to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight preferably

 

Strawberry Cake:

 

  1. In the bowl of your mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and gelatin using the paddle attachment
  2. Add the softened butter
  3. Add the vanilla
  4. Add the milk
  5. Add the egg whites, beat to combine.
  6. Scrape down edges
  7. Add cooled strawberry pureess
  8. Repeat above parchment*
  9. Divide the batter in two 9” cake pans
  10. Bake at 350 until the cake passes the toothpick test, about 20 minutes
  11. Cool in the pan then remove and cool on rackss2

 

Vanilla Buttercream:

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium until the butter looks white and fluffy
  2. Add vanilla
  3. On low speed, slowly and carefully add the powdered sugar about a cup at a time
  4. Slowly increase the speed and whip until well incorporated
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all of your sugar is used

Leftover buttercream can be stored in the freezer in a ziplock bag.ss4

 

Assembly:

  1. Lay down some parchment paper
  2. Place on layer of cake, place cheesecake and top with second layer of cake
  3. If you need to, trim the cake to make it a uniform sizess3
  4. Using a spatula, create a crumb coat on your cake
    1. This does not have to be pretty, it will not be seenss5ss6
  5. Sprinkle your crumble on top of the cakess7
  6. Carefully apply the crumble to the side of the cake

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Store cake in an airtight container in the fridge! Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Curried Pumpkin Coconut and Shrimp Soup

There are so many layers of flavor here from the mirepoix, to the curry, to the coconut, to the potent shrimp stock and of course, the pumpkin. This is a hearty, homey soup perfect for Autumn!

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There are quite a few steps but don’t let this intimidate you. Organize your ingredients, your tools and get to work! I always say, work smarter not harder. Tackle one thing at a time in the order that you will be working. If you are roasting your fresh pumpkin, get that out of the way first. While that’s happening, you can get your shrimp stock simmering. Once you have everything lines up, just bang it on out!

 

Ingredients:

8 cup fresh chopped, roasted pumpkin (3-4 C canned pumpkin)

1 large onion

3 celery stalks

2 large carrots, or 3-5 smaller carrots

4-6 garlic cloves

1-2 lbs shrimp, deveined (save shells)

1- 13.5 oz can of coconut milk

6 tbsp preferred curry powder

5 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp black pepper

Worcestershire sauce

kosher salt, to taste

 

  1. If you are using fresh pumpkin, roast this first. You can follow the steps here. pumpsoup7
  2. Peel your shrimp and place the shells in a pot, cover with waterpumpsouppumpsoup2
  3. Prepare your mirepoix
    1. Roughly chop celery, carrot, onionpumpsoup3
  4. Throw any peels, tops, etc. in the pot with the shrimp, stir.
    1. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, this will be your shrimp stock

      pumpsoup4

      Shrimp shells, onion peel, celery stumps, carrot peel and heads

  5. Over medium heat, soften the mirepoix. Season with salt and pepper.pumpsoup8
  6. Add the pumpkin, add your spices plus salt and pepperpumpsoup9pumpsoup10pumpsoup12
  7. Drain the shells and peels from the stockpumpsoup5pumpsoup6
  8. Add 3-4 cups of shrimp stock, stir
  9. Reduce to simmer for 10-15 minutespumpsoup13
  10. Using an immersion blender, food processor or regular blenderpumpsoup14pumpsoup15
  11. Return to your pot, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer
  12. Add the coconut milk and 1-2 splashes of Worcestershire saucepumpsoup16
  13. Taste, taste, taste! Adjust your spices as needed. My family likes bold spice and flavor, you may want a little less or a little more. This is where you taste and adjust.
  14. Add your shrimp, stir and close the lid. Your shrimp will gently poach in the soup liquid.soup102
  15. Allow to simmer for another 20-30 minutes

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Optional:

Top with pepitas, drizzle of coconut milk or chopped mint or cilantro!

 

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Pumpkin Cornbread

A very homey, Autumny treat. These are lightly spiced. They smell, taste and look like my favorite season. These would be awesome with some really hearty chili. I served these with an equally Autumny Pumpkin Soup!

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Ingredients:

 

1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

1 cup reduced fat milk

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 ¼ cup cornmeal

¾ cup AP flour, leveled

½ tsp baking soda

1 tbsp baking powder

¾ tsp

1 dash each: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove

4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

 

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  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. In a small bowl, whisk and combine puree, milk, sugar and eggs.cb3
  3. In a larger bowl, combine the dry ingredientscb2
  4. You’ll add the wet ingredients to the dry, plus the buttercb6
  5. Using a silicone spatula, just combine; do not over mix your batter
  6. Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray
  7. Scoop your batter into the tinscb7
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes until goldeny; and pass the toothpick test
  9. Allow to cool in the pan before transferring to rack
    1. For a little extra yum, top with butter while they’re hotcb8cb10cb11
  10. Store in air tight container

 

 

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Boston Creme Cupcakes

 

I’ve been itching to bake lately. My partner came up with the brilliant idea that I should try my hand at Boston Creme Cupcakes. I will tell you now, this is a labor-intensive cupcake. But they are so damn good, it’s worth it. Prepare your ingredients and your tools so that you can work quickly and efficiently. There are basically four key steps: Pastry cream, cupcake, ganache and fill/dip. Don’t let this intimidate you. Work smarter, not harder. Use your ‘down time’ productively and these will come right together before your eyes.

 

FYI: I did not use a super sweet, moist sponge for this because we’re filling it with sweet pastry cream and topping with a shiny ganache.

 

Ingredients:

 

Pastry cream:

2 egg yolks

6 tbsp granulated sugar

1 ½ tbsp cornstarch

1 c half and half

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Sponge:

1 ½ cup AP flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 stick of butter (unsalted), room temp

½ cup of light sour cream

1 large egg, 2 yolks, room temp

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

 

Ganache:

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 oz milk chocolate chips

½ cup of half and half

1 tbsp of butter

 

Pastry cream:

  1. In a bowl, beat yolksbc
  2. In a sauce pan, add sugar, cornstarch and milk, mix until combined
  3. While cooking, whisk constantly. It will begin to thicken.bc3
  4. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes, take off of the heat
  5. Add a small amount of the hot milk mixture to the eggs and whisk.
    • This is called tempering. You want to ensure that you don’t cook the eggs. So, slowly add some hot liquid to warm up the temp of the yolks.bc2
  6. Add the egg mixture to the hot milk mixture and whisk
  7. Put the saucepan back on the heat and bring to a boil, allow to continue for 1-2 minutes. Whisking constantly.
  8. Take off of the heat and add your butter and vanilla and combinebc4
  9. Set to the side to cool

 

 

Sponge:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Line or spray your cupcake tin
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer
  4. Add the butter, the sour cream, the egg (plus yolks) and the vanilla
  5. Beat using the paddle attachment for 20-30 seconds, you don’t want any “pockets” of flour20171118_190204bc5
  6. Fill the tins
  7. Bake until the cupcakes pass the toothpick test (roughly 20-25 minutes)
  8. Again, these aren’t super sweet or super moist. The tops will likely crack some. You’re doing amazing, this is not “wrong”. The sponge is actually almost like a soft scone, a perfect vehicle for filling and topping.

 

Ganache:

 

  1. You’re going to create a double boiler with a pot of boiling water and a glass bowl (my preferred method)
  2. Put the chocolate in the bowl
  3. Add the half and half
  4. Using a whisk or silicone spatula, stir as the chocolate is meltingbc6
  5. Stir in a tab of butter, this adds a super pretty sheen (and well, butter flavor, duh)

 

 

 

 

  • Remove your cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool
  • Using a tool or a knife (if push comes to shove, use your finger) to create a canal for the pastry creambc7
  • Fill the cupcakesbc8
  • Carefully dip the cupcakes in the ganache to coat the topbc9
  • As the ganache cools, it will harden.
  • These are best served warm or room temperature. NOM!

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Curry Chicken and Veggie Noodle Stir Fry

A few people have requested the walk through to this dinner. I winged that meal. I posted about the dumplings. I knew that I needed a side that incorporated vegetables. I did not measure most of these ingredients. It’s a very quick dish. Just taste as you go and keep adjusting. You can start with what I have below, but adjust to suit your preferences.

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Ingredient:

1 box of angel hair pasta

Sliced boneless skinless chicken thigh

Shredded cabbage

Shredded carrots

Scallions

Sliced onion

2 tbsp Curry powder

1/8 c Low sodium soy sauce

2 tsp Oyster sauce

½ tsp Fish sauce

Lower sodium chicken stock, as needed

 

 

  1. Salt and bring water to a boil, cook your pasta and drain
  2. In a very large skillet or wok, on high heat cook your chicken
  3. Cook your veg (minus scallions)
  4. Throw the noodles in the pan
  5. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce and curry powder.nood
  6. Using tongs, toss the noodles, the veg and the chicken all together to incorporate the ingredientsnood2
  7. Taste, taste, taste and adjust as necessary
  8. If the noodles start to stick, splash in some chicken stock and continue to toss
  9. Top with fresh scallions, whites and greens. Boom!

 

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Chicken and Pork Dumplings

No frills. This is a very easy recipe. Once you get the technique down, you can start playing with different flavors and different fillings.

 

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Ingredients:

 

Wonton wraps

Roughly chopped scallions

¼ c shredded carrots

4-5 oz ground pork

4-5 oz ground chicken thigh

Small splash of sesame oil

1 tsp of oyster sauce

½ tsp of fish sauce

2 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce

 

  1. As you are working, keep your wontons covered with a kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.
  2. In a large bowl, combine your ingredients using a spatulawontonwontonnnnjnn3
  3. In a sauce pan, cook a small amount of meat to taste your seasoning. Adjust as you see fit.wonton4
  4. Using a spoon, scoop a small amount of meat on to your wonton wrapper. Don’t over fill.wt5wt7wt8
  5. Dip your finger in water and rub it along the edge
  6. Fold the opposite side of the wontons and seal them
    1. You can totally do a more fancy seal. This is the easiest one in my book.
  7. I steamed these dumplings using a steamer basket
    1. Bring a little bit of water to a boil then reduce to a simmer
    2. Spray basket with cooking spray
    3. Place several dumplings at a time
    4. Steam for 5-6 minuteswt9wt10
  8. I seasoned mine impeccably and they didn’t need a sauce, however, if you want a sauce I whipped one up here

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Quinoa, Chickpea and Feta Salad

This is one of my go-to salads. I am obsessed with all things feta. I’d eat it by the handful, tbh. I often do variations of this based on what I have in my house at the time. This salad can be served warm or cold. Sometimes you just crave a big colorful bowl of veggies. Feta and balsamic go together beautifully.

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Some optional add ins:

  • cucumber
  • zuchinni
  • squash
  • fresh basil
  • fresh mint
  • fresh oregano
  • tofu
  • chopped chicken if you absolutely need meat

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of rinsed and strained chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
    • you can use a cup of halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cup of fresh spinach
  • 1 cup (measured uncooked) quinoa
  • 1 cup of feta
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar (optional, I love vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic dressing
  • Seasoning, to taste:
    • kosher salt
    • black pepper
    • crushed red pepper
    • crushed mint
    • oregano
  1. Prepare your quinoa
    • I prepare my quinoa the same way I prepare my brown rice: LIKE PASTA! Boil it to your desired doneness and then drain in a strainer. Boom!
  2. Chop your veg
  3. Measure out your seasoningsal2
  4. Add to a large bowl
  5. Add cooked quinoa
    • The cooked quinoa will warm the salad and wilt the spinachsal1
  6. Add seasoning
  7. Add dressing(s)
  8. Toss
  9. Serve warm or coldsal3sal4sal5

 

Super Loaded Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

I was messing around in the kitchen yesterday evening trying to find something quick and easy. I had some bleu cheese leftover from buffalo bacon cheeseburgers (omg) last week. I noticed that I had some mondo-potatoes in my batch. They were obscenely large. If I grow a third ear, we’re going to blame it on the potatoes.

 

These are super indulgent and also super easy to make. I didn’t sub any low-fat ingredients this time so this is full of fat ergo perfect and hella delicious.

 

This was an improvised meal so the ingredients are not exact. It’s not so much a recipe as it is a template. Honestly, just use what you have and adjust proportions to suit your taste. It can be easily scaled as well.

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Ingredients:

Potatoes

1-2 c shredded chicken

3-4 strips of crispy bacon

About a tbsp of cream cheese

About ¼ c of bleu cheese

½ cup of shredded cheese, extra for topping

4 scallions, whites and greens

About ¼ c of pickled jalpenos

1 habenero

½ medium red onion, finely chopped

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Chili powder

 

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 425
  2. Clean potatoes
    • Rub with oil and season with s&p
    • Pierce with a fork or knife
  3. Place bacon on baking sheet and place into the oven as well
    • (you can do this on the stove if you prefer).
  4. Bake potatoes for about 45 to 60 minutes
    • Remove the bacon once its crispy
    • DO NOT BURN YOUR BACON. It’s like treason or something.
  5. Meanwhile, you can chop and prep your veg and other fixinsPS
  6. Allow to cool
  7. Chop your bacon, reserve some for topping
  8. Carefully scoop out the insides and place into a bowl
  9. Add cream cheese and bleu cheesePS2
  10. Using a fork incorporate ingredients, add salt and pepper
  11. In large bowl, combine the chicken, seasonings and fixins using a silicon spatula
  12. Fill the potato skins with the fillingPS3
  13. Top with shredded cheese
  14. Place back into the oven until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are warmed through
  15. Top with more bacon and more scallions

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Lazy Buffalo Sauce for a drizzle:

Using a 1:1 ratio, add hot sauce to melted butter and whisk until combined.

Optional: Jazz it up with Worcestershire, granulated garlic, cayenne and a little white vinegar.

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved